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Modern Family Wiki

"A Hard Jay's Night" is the nineteenth episode from Season 5 of Modern Family. It first aired on April 2, 2014.

Plot Summary

Mitchell is upset by the wedding-cake topper that Cam's father whittled out of soap. Phil tries to help Gloria sell her old apartment. Claire feels backstabbed by Jay, who won't acknowledge all she's done for the company while he's been out. Luke plans to sneak out to a party with Manny, but gets an unexpected surprise upon his arrival and all this comes to a head at the weekly Jay's Night.

Episode Description

Jay had a big family night planned, so naturally everything is about to go wrong. Phil was showing Gloria's old apartment to prospective clients because Gloria hadn't lived in it for years and was tired of trying to keep tenants in it. It was in an up-and-coming neighborhood (translation: the gay community moved in and cleaned up an iffy neighborhood), but Gloria didn't want to rent it to the single guy who planned to gut it and rebuild. She insisted a family move in just like the other tenants in the building. Phil had another client coming in an hour, so Gloria suggested they hang out at her old beauty salon. It was far less sketchy than the bar next door and you could still get drinks. The owner was happy to see Gloria and even asked her to fill in for one of the missing stylists. Gloria was happy to, but she needed Phil to do the shampooing because she didn't want to ruin her nails. Three guess as to whether Phil shampooed for a living prior to this. In fairness, it was only part-time in college and it was to pay for his cheerleading gear. And this worked...until Gloria was hip-deep in clients and she insisted Phil and she stay to work in the salon. Phil wasn't happy, particularly since it was a family that wouldn't flip the apartment that were on the way.

Claire had an interesting week at work while Jay was sick at home. Despite several crises like a warehouse fire, a visit by OSHA, and a problem with their delivery trucks, she handled all of it. And didn't even get so much as a "great work" from Jay. This she communicated to Haley, Alex, and Luke (none of whom wanted to hear the story in the first place), and now Claire was so upset, even Haley's and Alex's attempts to give her praise weren't helping.

Meanwhile, Cameron's father made the topper for Mitchell and Cam's wedding cake. It's a bit hard to describe, but apparently Cam's father considers him a lot more manly than Mitchell. It was carved out of soap and shellacked within an inch of its life, so letting Lily play with it in the tub didn't work. And Mitchell had used up all of his "vetos" on things he didn't want in the wedding but Cam did. Fortunately, Jay had Mitchell's back. He claimed a lot of things tended to "disappear" in his house and perhaps an "accident" could befall the wedding topper. Stella could get her hands on it and bury it in the backyard. Cam was upset, but Jay said with that big backyard, they would never find it. Cameron wouldn't take no for an answer, but Jay insisted Stella would not tolerate it.

JAY: I wouldn't come between Stella and anything she's buried. She's a wild animal; there's no telling what she'll do! (Stella is lying on her back at Jay's feet) That is a very aggressive stance!

Luke wasn't up for Grandpa Jay's evening of appetizers and board games. (LUKE: More like boring games). Over Manny's strenuous protests, he headed down the street to where Christy Hughes (a sophomore whom Luke calls "Christy Huge Ones") was having a pool party. Manny said he shouldn't just go over uninvited, but apparently Manny had an open invite. As for Luke, he wasn't. Christy didn't even know who he was. Luke did not take this well, thinking he was the cool one of their particular pair and Manny was the dorky sidekick. As it turns out, the stuff Manny did that Luke thought was weird in the past was being well-accepted by Manny's peers and he became popular as a result. Manny thinks Luke can just tone it down and gain acceptance, but Luke preferred it when Manny was the one who was ostrichsized. (His term, not mine).

Still, Luke was doing much better than Claire, who had brought over spaghetti sauce, only to find Jay making his own. Claire gave him a ladle he requested but wouldn't let go until he thanked her for it. Which he begrudgingly did. And then threw some of the spagehtti against the wall to see if it was done, which she found totally immature. Not as immature as Jay throwing it at her face to try it out, but then she didn't have a leg to stand on when she blew on the hot sauce and got it all over his shirt. Haley and Alex stepped in before Claire could smack Jay with the loaf of parmesan bread. They sent Jay and Claire off to clean up, although Jay did get in one last dig at Claire's sauce.

After hours of digging in the backyard, Cameron found the topper and wanted to make a big mold of it and make copies for everyone. That got Mitchell to his limit. He said he hated it, and Cameron wouldn't even let him get in another word before browbeating him about not liking it. Mitchell fired back, saying it made Cam look like a hero while he looked like some "sissy man with pinkish cheeks and a turn-down heel".

CAMERON: (really mad) It is a caricature! What matters is what it represents! My daddy making this for us means he has accepted us for who we are! Don't you get that?

MITCHELL: (humbled) I never really thought about it that way.

CAMERON: No, you hadn't!

Mitchell admitted he needed to have a thicker skin about these things, but Cam said he could have one more veto...provided Cam could change out their wedding singer. Mitchell was forced to agree. And this was all part of Cam's evil plan. He had his father make the topper like that on purpose to be his ace in the hole.

Phil and Gloria never got to the couple who wanted to see the apartment because of all the clients. Gloria was too tired to go, and working all day like she did made her feel a bit sad that she didn't have to earn her keep nowadays like she used to. She admits she doesn't want to get rid of the apartment because that would be getting rid of the last piece of the old her. But Phil says there's plenty of the old Gloria there. She takes care of Jay and is raising two kids, and not once has she ever taken any of her new fortune for granted.

Jay was still having trouble with Claire, but all of the things Cam and Mitch dug up in the backyard would get him in more trouble, like some of Manny's homemade Father's Day gifts, Gloria's karaoke microphone, and the walkie-talkie Phil gave him. He also had Stella bury the clock his employees got him a month ago. Which Claire was ready to rail him on until she read the inscription: Here's to 40 years in the business. Enjoy your new timer, Old Timer.

CLAIRE: Suddenly it made sense. In my dad's mind, I was reaching for a torch he wasn't ready to pass. Someday I'm going to take over the business but not tonight. Tonight is still Jay's night.

Claire told him she had a few questions, but she knew he'd be down the hall at his office if she had to ask them. Which made him feel better. Phil calling him Papa Bear over the walkie-talkie? Not so much. But Claire found a use for Phil's shampooing skills: getting information out of the kids. Well, Alex and Luke, anyway.

Main Cast

(The characters striked out do not appear in this episode)

  • Jay Pritchett
  • Gloria Pritchett
  • Manny Delgado
  • Claire Dunphy
  • Phil Dunphy
  • Haley Dunphy
  • Alex Dunphy
  • Luke Dunphy
  • Mitchell Pritchett
  • Cameron Tucker
  • Lily Tucker-Pritchett

Guest Starring

  • Elena Campbell-Martinez as Rita
  • Zilah Mendoza as Luisa
  • Nate Smith as Blake
  • Cameron Protzman as Kristy
  • Soledad St. Hilaire as Anna


  • "Jay's Night" was previously featured in "Great Expectations", although was only for the kids.
  • Gloria's old apartment was also seen in "Starry Night", but only from outside.
  • Phil and Gloria visit the hair salon she worked before she married Jay. Gloria was previously seen cutting Phil's hair in "Regrets Only", demonstrating that she was probably a hairdresser.
  • Jay again mentions his time in Vietnam, here describing his time as an army cook.
  • This episode brings up the issue of Cam's dad seeing Mitch as the "woman" of their relationship, previously brought up in "The Last Walt".


  • Gloria was a hairdresser.
  • Jay had hepatitis.
  • Alex has tasted beer.
  • This episode has no recurring characters.

Cultural References

  • The episode title references the film A Hard Day's Night.
  • Cam mentions the song "My Way".
  • Manny tells Luke that to keep being cool, he has to stop using his Yoda voice.